Are you sick of constant conflict and stress in your life? Are you exhausted from having the same arguments over and over again? Are you done with all the drama?
For most of us it can feel like other people create problems, stress and drama for us. They bring us their problems, their moods, their difficult states of mind – and often we feel responsible. Or worse, they find a way to make us responsible or even blame us. At that point, we get caught up in feeling hurt, agitated or angry and act defensively, which only makes the situation worse. All we want is an easy life and some peace.
So what can we do? How do we break this cycle of getting dragged into something we don’t really want to be part of?
Most people try to change the externals: the situation, the problem or the other person. Trying to do this is usually unsuccessful and creates more drama and conflict. It is futile to try controlling and changing the externals to deal with or avoid certain inner feeling states like feeling defensive, hurt or angered. It simply does not work. And yet, we try and keep trying while caught up in endless cycles of drama and distress.
The first step towards ending the drama is to realise what you are responsible for and what you are not responsible for.
Here is a list of what we are responsible for:
- our choices and their consequences
- our behaviours, actions and reactions
- our perceptions and thinking patterns
- our own feelings and emotions
- our own wellbeing and happiness
- getting our needs met
- creating a life that is big, rich and meaningful to us
- deciding which values to live by
- accepting ourselves and the conditions (or limitations) of being human
- seeing ourselves with understanding and clarity
And here is what we are not responsible for:
- solving someone else’s problems
- making them feeling better and changing their mood or state of mind
- their perceptions of us
- others’ protest behaviours (i.e. acting out, throwing tantrums, guilt-tripping others, becoming depressed or acting victimised) because we don’t do as they say
- sorting out other people’s business
- making choices and decisions for them
- controlling someone else’s life
- controlling someone else’s behaviour, feelings, moods, actions, state of mind, …
It is not that we don’t want to be a positive influence in other people’s lives. It it not that we are unwilling to cheer others up, encourage them, support them or meet their needs. It is about our own choosing to do so and not feeling that we must or that this is demanded from us because someone else feels entitled to it. We choose to give because we want to and because we can. We choose to give out of our own free will from a place of love and connection and not because we are being manipulated or guilt-tripped into it.
‘Blaming is not easier than taking responsibility.’
Placing our responsibilities onto others and then blaming them may appear to be easier at first but it does not lead to happy, fulfilled, connected and healthy relationships. Instead it leads to conflict, anger, resentment and feelings of powerlessness. When we don’t take responsibility for ourselves, we place it onto someone else. We make them responsible what we are responsible for. And then very often we blame them for not getting the outcome we wish we had got. When we play the blame game, we all lose.
Drama creates excitement and also connection between people so it can feel scary and destabilising to end a long-standing routine. Wanting to end the drama cycle can feel like changing the rules of the game halfway through. Some relationships cannot survive without the drama and so it can feel like a choice has to be made between a relationship dynamic or a change of partner, relative or friend. A choice, which feels scary to most of us.
So why take responsibility?
If we decide to change the rules we are willing to end something unhealthy and unhelpful to make space for personal growth and for real intimacy to develop. We open ourselves up to new experiences and new ways of being. We also provide an opportunity for our partner to grow, learn new skills and become healthier as a result.
Taking responsibility for ourselves and expecting others to take responsibility for themselves is an act of love and respect. It allows us to develop healthy relationships with others and ourselves. It protects everyone’s personal boundaries and communicates that we can handle life, that we will ask for what we need or want and that we have faith in others to do the same.
Once we know what we are responsible for and what we are not responsible for we can start to set healthy boundaries. Boundaries communicate to others what we are willing to accept and want we won’t. Healthy relationships are not possible without setting and maintaining healthy and functional boundaries. To find out how to set and maintain boundaries, please read our ‘Setting Boundaries’ article.
How do I start?
A major step towards taking more responsibility for ourselves is to notice when we make others responsible for our problems, feelings, thoughts, actions or inactions. We start by observing ourselves in everyday life and we begin to notice. We get to know ourselves better so we can change our responses and engage in much less drama in our lives.
This can be a very difficult pattern to change and cycle to break so most people benefit greatly from support when working through this. If you have had enough of all the drama in your life, of being stuck in stressful cycles of conflict and are ready to turn over a new page, book your appointment with Clarity today! There doesn’t have to be any more drama in your life – let us show you how.